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  • Tweet Rises: Twitter Sentiment Analysis

    Aleksander BelloCalifornia Institute of

    Alexandru CiocCalifornia Institute of

    Victor DuanCalifornia Institute of

    Archan LuharCalifornia Institute of

    Louis OBryanCalifornia Institute of

    ABSTRACTThis paper focuses on the work of the California Instituteof Technology CS 145 group: Tweet Rises. It focuses ona combination of Twitter sentiment analysis and effectiveweb-based visualization.

    The group worked with several forms of natural languageprocessing and machine learning, and with two primary vi-sualization methods.

    Categories and Subject DescriptorsH.3.5 [Online Information Services]: Web-based ser-vices; H.5.3 [Group and Organization Interfaces]: Web-based interaction

    General TermsVisualization

    KeywordsTwitter, sentiment analysis, 2D visualization

    1. INTRODUCTIONHow is the world feeling right now? That is a hard ques-tion so to make it easier and narrow the scope down to thequantifiable, we ask, how is Twitter feeling right now? Wepropose here an application and underlying infrastructure tocategorize Tweets based on emotional content, create a rep-resentative sample, and visualize the sentiments on a mapin a web browser in real-time.

    2. FRONTENDIn order to make our work available to the widest audience,we decided to work on visualizing our results within a webbrowser. A major challenge was in, first, developing a work-ing prototype and in, next, iterating upon it on a weekly

    Figure 1: Heatmap of Twitter sentiment.

    basis. Among our most important priorities was to preventour clients from being flooded with too much informationand, from the other standpoint, still providing enough in-formation to make viewing the website meaningful.

    Our development primarily utilized the Google Maps APIin order to achieve a fast and effective visualization. GoogleMaps allowed us to focus on the visualization itself, andsaved us the time of having to create a scalable map of theUnited States.

    Originally, we intended on visualizing our results using aheat map, but quickly discovered that a more understand-able mode of communication was to use a state map. Ourprimary concern with using the heat map was that the GoogleMaps API heatmap naturally scales based on the amount ofdata it receives. This means that, within seconds, statesand cities with small populations have their data pointseffectively reduced to obscurity, and our entire heat maptherefore only shows data for cities like Los Angeles, SanFrancisco, and New York City. As previously mentioned,we therefore focused on a different type of visualization, thestate map.

    Our idea for using our state mapcame from analyzing vari-ous forms of 2D visualizations, and seeing that a particularlyunderstandable visualization came from geographic electoralmaps during U.S. elections. This forms of visualization de-picts an entire state with a solid color that indicates that

  • Figure 2: Example US electoral map.

    states political preference. We believed that, since peoplehave already been predisposed to understand these mapsfrom news coverage, we could lower the barrier to entry forunderstanding what our data actually depicts. Therefore,in our own work, we decided to create an independent ge-ometric shape for each state using the Google Maps API,and then colored the state as the average color of the Tweetsentiments it received. For visualization purposes, we letnegative emotions be depicted in red and positive emotionsbe depicted in blue.

    An issue that quickly arose was that, in averaging the colorover every Tweet received, every state would, given an ad-equate amount of time, become the same shade of purple -roughly an equal amount of redand blue sentiments. Webelieve that this makes sense since, over a prolonged periodof time, we should notice an equal amount of both posi-tive and negative sentiments since Twitter has a very wideaudience so whenever a wave of positive or negative senti-ments are shown, people often respond with a contradictingsentiment.

    In order to alleviate this, we decided to allow for specifica-tion of how many Tweets to average over. Thus, by loweringthe number to something more manageable, like 10 Tweets,we see a more meaningful rise and fall of positive and nega-tive sentiments.

    Our final touches to our frontends visualization came in theform of sidebar indicating trending topics and their overallsentiments. Clicking on a topic allowed users to view the vi-sualization for that single topic. This provided more mean-ingful information for users who aimed at gauging overallsentiments for a single topic as opposed to the overall Twit-ter Tweet stream. Even further, the sidebar allows usersto estimate, at a glance, what a topics sentiment is. Thiscould potentially be seen as an exploratory tool, since itgives users a chance to notice outliers - topics that mightbe heavily weighed towards one sentiment, and then easilygives them access to see the map for that topic.

    Overall, we believe our techniques provided for an effectivevisualization of our Twitter sentiment data.

    Figure 3: State map of Twitter sentiment.

    3. NATURAL LANGUAGE PROCESSINGThe first step to analyzing the Tweets is natural languageprocessing (NLP). The techniques used to classify the Tweetsall focus on a bag of words approach. As such, the NLP por-tion of the project focused on developing an efficient way toget the best bag of words from any given Tweet.

    Initially, we eliminate obvious stop words that dont con-tribute to the content of a Tweet. This list includes wordssuch as a, I, she, etc. Afterwards, we define words asa string of alphabetic characters with whitespace on bothsides. Note that this ignores things such as numbers andemoticons. Once the set of words in each Tweet has beencomputed for each Tweet in the training data, mutual infor-mation is used to determine the words that provide the mostinsight to the content of the Tweets. For our purposes weused about 1000 words. With these, each Tweet was thuscharacterized by which of these 1000 words appeared. Forexample, for the Tweet I am not happy. He is not happyand the mutual information words not and happy, theTweet would be characterized as [not, happy]. Note thatthe number of times a word appears is not taken into ac-count.

    Once a Tweet has been characterized by the above steps,it is passed along to the machine learning portion of theclassification.

    4. MACHINE LEARNINGOur machine learning methods consisted of four algorithms:Nave Bayes, Stochastic gradient descent, Support vectormachines, and Maximum entropy. Our first implementationwas Nave Bayes, due to its simplicity. Nave Bayes predictsthe classification of an observation by providing a partic-ularly simple formula for the probability that an outcomeC is observed given that there are features F1, F2, ..., Fn inthe observation. These probabilities can be compared foreach outcome to find the most likely one. Specifically, themodel assumes that the features variables F1, F1, ..., Fn areindependent, and the assumption implies that

    p(C|F1, F2, ..., Fn) =1




    where Z = p(F1, F2, , Fn) is the evidence for these features.In our case, the outcome C was whether the Tweet had

  • Figure 4: Performance of Naive Bayes, Maximumentropy, and Support vector machines algorithmsfor up to 10,000 training Tweets.

    positive or negative sentiment, the features were the wordsdetermined by the mutual information algorithm, and theprobabilities p(Fi|C) were determined from the training datadepending on their appearance rate. So, the formula gave away to compare the likelihood of the two sentiments giventhe words in the Tweet.

    One problem with this approach was that if a word did notappear in both positive and negative sentiment Tweets, theprobability p(Fi|C) was zero for one of the outcomes. Al-though these terms were unlikely, they occurred in our calcu-lation when we limited the number of training Tweets. Wedecided to simply leave these terms out of our calculation.

    The other three algorithms, stochastic gradient descent, sup-port vector machines, and maximum entropy, were imple-mented in the python scikit-learn package. So, our workwith these algorithms mainly involved tuning the parame-ters to the scikit-learn functions. For example, we changedthe loss function, number of iterations, learning rate, andwhether or not to fit the intercept for stochastic gradientdescent.

    Using 10,000 training Tweets, all algorithms but stochas-tic gradient descent had an accuracy rate between 65% and75% on the test data set. The performance of our stochas-tic gradient descent implementation was poor, so we left itout in the end. The support vector machines algorithm per-formed better than the other algorithms when the numberof training Tweets was less than 10,000, achieving over 70%accuracy.

    Only our Nave Bayes algorithm was able to process signif-icantly larger training sets in a reasonable amount of time.We were able to train Nave Bayes on 1.6 million Tweets,which gave the algorithm almost 80% accuracy, outperform-ing the others. The other algorithms may have performedbetter with the same amount of training data, but they tooksignificantly longer at only 20,000 Tweets, so this was im-practical to test.

    5. BACKENDThe first thing that needs to be done before we can produceany results is to have the raw Tweets, i.e. the text and ge-olocation information. This is obtained by the Twitter 1%firehose API. There is a persistent connection between ourbackend and Twitter that continuously streams new Tweets

    Figure 5: Performance of Naive Bayes classifier forup to 1.6 million Tweets.

    Figure 6: An overview of the backend infrastruc-ture. The ellipses represent the NLP workers, whildthe rhomboids represent instances of the frontendservers.

  • in realtime. More specifically, we have two open streamswith Twitter: one to get a 1% sample from all Tweets, andone to get a sample only for the specified trending topics.The trending topics are collected and updated by a peri-odically running script. This approach also allows for cus-tom trending topics that we might like to add. All of theseTweets are stored on Redis, a simple in-memory database.There is one process worker for each stream, so that bothstreams can be consumed at the same time. It is worth not-ing that the official Twitter API documentation does notallow multiple streams. Moreover, these consumer work-ers have to be fast enough to keep up with the upstreamTweets, otherwise the connection will be dropped. To miti-gate these two issues (and any other connection issues thatmight arise), several supervisor mechanisms are set up torestart these services.

    After the raw Tweets are obtained, they need to be pro-cessed before they can be served to the frontend. The pro-cessing part consists of the NLP/machine learning workerscategorizing the raw Tweets as positive and negative senti-ments, extracting out the geolocation data, and then storingthis information on a second database. This being the mostcompute intensive part, is fully parallelizable; more workerscan be spinned up to parallelly consume from the raw Tweetsqueue. Unfortunately, Twitter does not support querying byboth geolocation data and topic, thus not all trending topicswill have geolocation data attached. We do, however, storeall of them, so that we have a more complete sentimentalassessment of the trends.

    In parallel to the Twitter consumer and sentiment catego-rizer, we have a node.js server that interacts with the userclient. This server has two objectives: handle the requestsfor the websites static files and send sentiment data pointsin real time via an open socket connection. We used severalnode.js libraries. Using node.jss built in http server, wemapped all http port 80 requests to a static content foldercontaining html, css, images, and javascript. Using the thirdparty library, we structured the data point commu-nication. On a new socket connection, the server sends allsentiment points less than ten minutes old. Then, for ev-ery current trending topic and hard coded permanent topic,the server sends the last 24 hours worth of points limited toa maximum of 1000 points. Independent of the individualsocket connection logic, the server sends all points gatheredin the last ten seconds to all connected clients every tenseconds.

    6. FINAL PRODUCTThe final result of our project is a real time Twitter senti-ment analysis tool. There are two modes: states map andheatmap. The states map collects the last five sentiments ofTweets from each state, and displays the overall sentimentof each state. The heatmap plots individual points for eachTweet it receives, and the colors on the map represent theoverall sentiment of that small area.

    Additionally, there are topics to choose from on the side.Some of the topics are determined based on what is cur-rently trending on Twitter. Others are custom topics thatwe thought we be interesting for a new user to see upon firstvisiting the site. Due to the limitations of the API, we were

    unable to query for topic and location (Tweets with loca-tion tag in USA) simultaneously. As a result, it was difficultto get a lot of data for the topics that also had locationdata. The currently trending topics often had fairly littledata, and the states are not all colored in. For the customtopics, we tried to hold on to the data over a longer periodof time, giving us a chance to acquire more information onthose topics and display a better map.

    See below for figures of the final state of the project.

    7. FURTHER WORKWe believe further work could be done on our projects fron-tend. Since our state map, is an effective tool, we couldcreate sub-shapes for each state in order to see sentimentsfor specific counties. Even further, we could continue workon our heat map. We switched to the state map, becomesof inherent problems that the heat map caused, but we didnot have time to return to the heat map and actually fixthe problems we encountered. Thus, while our state map,looks like a completed final project, the heat map remainsin a rudimentary state. Lastly, for our frontend, we couldtry and speed up switching between topics. There is currentslowdown after a large number of points have been added sooptimization changes would prove effective.

    8. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTSWe would like to thank Professor Adam Wierman and Ling-wen Gan for helpful advice and guidance throughout theproject.

    9. REFERENCES[1] A. Go, R. Bhayani, and L. Huang. Twitter Sentiment

    Classification Using Distant Supervision. CS224NProject Report, Stanford, 1-12.

    [2] E. Kouloumpis, T. Wilson, and J. Moore. TwitterSentiment Analysis: The Good the Bad and the OMG!.ICWSM, 11:538-541, 2011.

    [3] A. Bifet and E. Frank. Sentiment Knowledge Discoveryin Twitter Streaming Data. Discovery Science, 2010.

    [4] T. Sakaki, M. Okazaki, and Y. Matsuo. Earthquakeshakes Twitter users: real-time event d...